This past April, David Sandalow, Assistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced EcoCAR 2: Plugging in to the Future at the Society of Automobile Engineers (SAE) 2011 World Congress in Detroit. EcoCAR 2 is a three-year competition that challenges 16 collegiate engineering programs across North America to reduce the petroleum and energy use of a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu without sacrificing performance, safety and consumer satisfaction. Michigan’s own Wayne State University is among those selected to participate.

Wayne State University’s team consists of several students who are enrolled in their engineering department —many of whom are in their electric-drive vehicle engineering graduate program. Jerry Ku, Ph.D., associate professor of mechanical engineering and director of Wayne State’s electric-drive vehicle engineering graduate program will advise the team through the designing and building process.

“Being in the heart of the automotive capital of the world, it makes sense for Wayne State University to participate in the EcoCAR 2 program,” said Ku. “Through EcoCAR 2, the university will be able to strengthen our newly established electric-drive vehicle engineering program, strengthen our industry collaborations, and provide invaluable learning opportunities for our students.”

EcoCAR 2 follows EcoCAR: The Next Challenge, which was won by Mississippi State University in 2010. The DOE and General Motors (GM) established these competitions to encourage the next generation of automotive engineers to gain the skills and knowledge necessary to reduce the environmental impact of future vehicles. During EcoCAR 2, engineering students will follow a Vehicle Development Process (VDP) that is modeled after the VDP that GM uses. This will give teams a real-world experience of designing and developing a clean, advance technology vehicle.

In year one of the EcoCar 2 competition, teams will use math-based design tools and simulation techniques to develop the framework for their vehicle. During year two, teams will build the vehicle and incorporate their newly designed power trains. In the final year, teams continue to perfect their vehicles to show room quality.

The nationwide Clean Cities program is a Diamond Level sponsor of the EcoCAR 2 competition. In this role, Clean Cities funds EcoCAR’s Outreach Coordinator fellowships to gain valuable contributions that will strengthen the visibility of participating teams. Other Sponsors provide the hardware, software, training, and assist teams with support and funding that may otherwise be unavailable.

The other schools chosen to participate in EcoCar2 are:

  • California State University, Los Angeles (Los Angeles, California)
  • Colorado State University (Fort Collins, Colorado)
  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Daytona Beach, Florida)
  • Mississippi State University (Starkville, Mississippi)
  • North Carolina State University (Raleigh, North Carolina)
  • Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio)
  • Pennsylvania State University (University Park, Pennsylvania)
  • Purdue University (West Lafayette, Indiana)
  • Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (Terre Haute, Indiana)
  • University of Ontario Institute of Technology (Oshawa, Ontario, Canada)
  • University of Tennessee, Knoxville (Knoxville, Tennessee)
  • University of Victoria (Victoria, British Columbia, Canada)
  • University of Washington (Seattle, Washington)
  • University of Waterloo (Waterloo, Ontario, Canada)
  • Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, Virginia)